Record-setting Patty Schacht keeping her place secure in the annals of ARCA

Record-setting Patty Schacht keeping her place secure in the annals of ARCA

TOLEDO, Ohio (Nov. 21, 2017) -- From powder puffs in hobby stock divisions at Mt. Clemens to ARCA's national tour at Toledo and Talladega, Patty Simko Schacht clearly made her mark among the men she competed against.

Her most notable feat was the distinction she earned at Talladega Superspeedway where on May 3, 1987 she turned in the fastest qualifying lap ever recorded by a female ARCA driver. The speed of 199.604 mph still stands today. In true racer form, she felt she should have gone faster.

"We went to Daytona and broke the record there…then we turned around and re-broke our own record at Talladega," said Schacht. "I didn't have full compression at Talladega or I would have went over 200."

It wasn't just Talladega where she made history. She also made good on the rough and tumble short tracks, specifically at Toledo Speedway where she finished a career-best third from the sixth qualifying position, also in '87. The Toledo finish is the highest short-track finishing position from any female ARCA racer in history. In 2016, Nicole Behar tied Schacht with a third-place finish of her own at Madison.

"I remember (Bill) Venturini won the race (at Toledo). We should have finished better but Jerry Churchill blocked me the whole race. I couldn't get around him to get to second. Then my radio stopped working. I was getting direction from my crew on a chalkboard. My crew wrote on the board, 'You're gonna win.' Those were old-school days," she laughed.

To be sure, there have been some bumps and bruises along the way too…like the time she landed against the Pocono pit wall head-on before flipping over.

"Bob Loga (ARCA President) invited me to Pocono. We ended up taking my short track car…put the bigger brakes on it. When we went to unload the car the brakes hung up on the truck ramps…we forced it down off the trailer. On pit road, I hit the brakes and it steered me right into the wall…then the car flipped over. Ronnie Keselowski got there first. He said the brakes were so hot, they were blue. We were literally racing with the brakes on. I don't remember the flip…I had a concussion."

About that time, ARCA veteran driver Bob Schacht starting helping her with set-ups on the car.

"That's when I started going faster when Bob started helping me."

And it should be no surprise that the couple also started "secretly dating."

"Working on 28 years (of marriage) in January."

They're also still working on race cars. Bob still runs his shop in Mooresville, North Carolina and competes on the Super Cup Stock Car tour. Bob, 67, a 19-time ARCA Racing Series winner, won at Virginia's Dominion Raceway last year.

"It was so much fun. I think Bob's face hurt because he was smiling so much. It's a 'run what ya brung' deal…no officiating. Just go race and have fun, the way it used to be. We love it."

Patty's connection to racing goes back to her youth. Originally from Lake Angelus, Michigan, she was born into a racing family. Her father Elmer competed regularly at the Motor City (Mich.) Speedway quarter-mile dirt for years as well as Mt. Clemens (Mich.) Speedway.

"My first race was a powder puff race at Mt. Clemens. The guys raced the hobby stocks and shared with the girls what was left over. I finished second in my first race, but it jumped out of gear on me. The next two I won in only my second and third races ever. People were asking me, 'Where did you practice at?' I told 'em that I've never practiced anywhere."

From the powder puff hobby stocks, she moved up into the late model ranks.

"My first late model race was Flat Rock. I didn't qualify fast enough to make the main feature so I had to run the consi...and won it. The red light was on and I didn’t know what it meant but I didn't have any oil pressure…the belt fell off the dry sump pump and they didn't want to chance running the motor so I didn't get to start the main feature. When I was out there running, my dad told me he just stood there and cried…he was so proud of me. If you knew my dad, that would have been a little out of character for him."

Patty's brother Dave Simko was also a notable ARCA racer, making 104 career starts from 1981 through 1995, earning 20 top-five finishes and 42 top-10s. Dave's son Michael Simko also has several ARCA starts, finishing a career-best third at Salem Speedway in 2005, and fourth at Winchester Speedway in 2006.

"I used to sit and watch my brother race…watch the powder puffs run. I told my dad I wanted to do it too. I kicked their butts in powder puff. I had to…to move up."

And move up she did…through the late models and eventually into ARCA's national tour. She made 39 ARCA starts in all from 1986 through 1995. In addition to her record qualifying run at Talladega and her third-place finish at Toledo, she earned a career-best superspeedway finish of fourth at Atlanta in 1989.

"The racing never made me nervous. The only time I got nervous was when we qualified. Back then, you had to qualify-in to make the race. I probably put a little extra pressure on myself in qualifying because I wanted to make the race. Once you made the race, then it got fun."

You would not be surprised by her choice in favorite tracks.

"If I had to pick my favorite tracks…of course Talladega, and I loved Toledo too."

Patty lives with her husband Bob Schacht in Mount Ulla Township, North Carolina. They have one daughter, Priscilla, who's now 27.

Wishing Patty, Bob and Priscilla a safe and happy holiday season.

Don Radebaugh